Yesterday saw the release of the first Twilight graphic novel adaptation, produced in all its glossy, hardcover glory by Yen Press. I haven’t had a chance to do more than a quick flip-through so far, but though I’ve never read the novels (and have little interest in doing so) I’m actually looking forward to taking a look at the series in graphic novel form, if only to see what all the hype is about.
By “hype” I’m not only talking about the series’ huge sales. I’m also interested in finding a connection with its notoriously rabid fans. I’ve found myself defending them quite a bit recently against accusations of being “crazy,” “repugnant,” and “freaks,” which has made me more curious about the source of their obsession than I might have been otherwise. After all, if obsessive fandom is the issue, there’s very little I can relate to more.
I started off as a pre-teen like many of us do, though my little sister (who was sporting a Shaun Cassidy pantsuit in early elementary school) made me feel like a late bloomer. I began with fiction. My first obsession was Zenna Henderson’s collected stories about The People, found in Pilgrimage and The People: No Different Flesh. I read those books (as well as most of her unrelated short stories) and adapted the concepts to my own playtime, dragging my sister in for days-long games of “Barbies” where we’d weave long tales of displaced aliens with supernatural abilities.
As a teen, I downgraded to less intellectual fare, like V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (my copy was re-read so many times, it literally fell apart). Since my obsession with the latter coincided perfectly with the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation, it was that movie’s impressively pretty batch of young male leads that helped me fully embrace teen idols as sexual figures–comfortingly unattainable objects for sexual fantasies that were too terrifying at the time for me to talk about out loud, let alone act upon.
Though my tastes have matured (arguably) over time, at thirteen I truly and sincerely loved the novels I was into. I talked about them incessantly and passionately with no sense of irony. They were profound and beautiful to me, and I treated them as such. Because of my heartfelt attachment to these books, criticism of them felt personal to me, and I often found myself lashing out in their defense.
Of course, unlike most young Twilight fans, who will eventually grow up to become “normal” citizens of this world, casually engaged in mainstream entertainment as they pursue respectable jobs and lifestyles, I have maintained an ongoing obsession with various forms of fiction throughout my adulthood. After spending ten years as a professional theater geek, I moved on to obsessions with things like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Harry Potter, finally landing in the territory of anime and manga fandom where I have once again found a (minimally lucrative) excuse to treat my fannish obsession as “work.” Thanks to this, I am able to justify spending hours of my time obsessing over stuff I like with friends and interacting with fun, intelligent fans who are often into stuff I’m not. It is awesome, truly. This really is the life.
So somebody, please explain to me how–in a fannish universe filled with things like lolicon, yaoi, replica underwear, and Hot Gimmick, all revered with levels of obsession so great they have a special word for it–there can possibly be anything wrong with Twilight fans. They are too obsessed? They are too vocal? They are too weird? Seriously, people have you looked around at your own fandom lately? Have you looked at your bookshelves, action figure shelves, DVD collections, hard drives, websites, or message boards? Genre fandoms are full of intensely dedicated fans who will argue tirelessly over the superiority of their fandoms or opinions, frequently in defensive, strident tones, ready to smack down anyone who dares to challenge whatever it is they are into.
What’s the difference? Well, for one, Twilight fans are (overwhelmingly) girls. The heavy backlash against Twilight fans reeks of misogyny, plain and simple. Here are a couple of the comments made yesterday to Gia Manry’s post comparing Twilight and moe fandoms:
“give my gun to shoot twilight fans”
“Twitards can have shit delivered right back up their @$$3$ … if they like cold hard vampires soo much they can shove a popsicle up their Vajayjays”
I felt honestly sickened reading those. And what’s really sad, is I’ve seen worse.
Twilight fans are also mainly teens, driven by adolescent hormones and a need for group identification–the core of so much teenage obsession. So I ask you, anime and manga fandom: What’s your excuse?
This is the thing that’s been getting to me lately, in all the online discussion of the epic crappiness of Twilight and its fans. What I’m seeing is a bunch of adults (mostly male, but some female) berating a bunch of teen girls for acting their age.
Can a room of screaming teens be annoying? Sure. It’s also normal. That’s the way teens are hormonally programmed to behave around something that gets them excited. And you know, I’m guilty of forgetting this myself. It was around this time last year, in fact, that I found myself tweeting crankily from the all-ages yaoi panel at Anime Boston, until Lissa Pattillo reminded me to stop expecting teens to act my age.
So grow up, fandom. The Twilight girls will, thanks to simple biology. When will you?
gloss saysMarch 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm
Thank you for saying all of this, as precisely and passionately as you have. I hope it gets heard.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 12:35 pm
Thanks, Gloss. I’m not terribly optimistic, but I feel better having said something.
Laura saysMarch 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm
I second that!
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm
sistermagpie saysMarch 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm
The anti-Twilight stuff reeks so strongly of misogyny I just can’t even deal. I don’t mind women tearing the book apart for things they don’t like in it, but that’s fannish too—and just the counterpart to the adolescent squeeing; they can both be teenaged girls or other women. But the whole idea that they’re annoying as fans in ways that genre fans and fanboys aren’t? Could it be more blatant?
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm
But the whole idea that they’re annoying as fans in ways that genre fans and fanboys aren’t?
Argh. Truly, ripping apart the books for being (so I hear) misogynist, racist, and downright bad I have no problem with. I’m sure I would have many of the same opinions, and as you said, that’s fannish activity by itself. But the hatred being spewed at its fans (especially adult women, which really gets me) is sickening.
Linda saysOctober 8, 2011 at 6:21 pm
Hear ye, hear ye, great points, both in the post and in these two comments here!
gia saysMarch 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm
Definitely not what I was going for with that post @_o;
The misogyny is certainly interesting and I doubt fanboys even recognize it; I would actually bet that it’s less a hatred of women and more that the media has ALWAYS portrayed fanboys as…boys. Obsessive fans are guys. Comics, video games, you name it— guy stuff. Even in anime, which is a relatively evenly-represented fandom in terms of sex, has female fans who talk about what it’s like to be in a “minority,” because that’s the fandom perception.
Setting aside gender, though, I think fandoms ALWAYS have a whipping boy, some group that they feel superior to. “I may fap to posters of 14-year-old anime girls, but man, at least the stuff I like is GOOD, unlike that Twilight crap!” (Actually, it’s an instinct pretty much everywhere, come to think of it.)
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm
Setting aside gender, though, I think fandoms ALWAYS have a whipping boy, some group that they feel superior to.
That’s a really interesting point, Gia. I wonder why they feel the need for it. Sort of a preemptive strike? Or a way of getting out of copping to their own issues?
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm
BTW, I thought your post was really thought-provoking. I wish more commenters had taken the opportunity to really think about the questions you posed.
gia saysMarch 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm
As for the whipping-boy thing…I think that’s an instinct you’ll find everywhere, outside of fandoms. Everyone compares themselves to others on some level.
I think fandoms tend to get the worst about it online, though, and for two reasons: one, the relative anonymity of the Internet, and two, geekdom has always attracted folks who lack social graces. I mean, that’s what being a “geek” originally meant, even.
So it’s no surprise to me that when a bunch of people start talking about how Twilight sucks, a few people start taking that overboard and saying some really horrendous things, even if it’s pretty disappointing.
A really, really great example of this is, in fact, 4chan. If you spend a bit of time there, the mindset is one of sort of this weird irony and one-upsmanship, so people say some incredibly disgusting things. They don’t really mean them literally, I’d bet, but the anonymity gives you a bit of a high, and the harsh snark atmosphere causes everyone to keep being harsh and snarky.
That said, I think being a “fan” is becoming more and more of an okay thing, due in part to the Internet itself— everyone’s a fan of SOMEthing, and now you can find all of its other fans! Combine that with a movement towards NON-anonymity (you combine everything to your Twitter/facebook accounts), and it seems to me that geekdom may attract a broader base that results in more moderation on average.
…Which may also mean that it loses some of its “alt” cred/edge. It’s an interesting time to be a geek…
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm
A really, really great example of this is, in fact, 4chan. If you spend a bit of time there, the mindset is one of sort of this weird irony and one-upsmanship, so people say some incredibly disgusting things.
That’s a really good point. I think you’re right—people mostly don’t mean the really awful things they say online. It’s hard for me to excuse that kind of thing from adults, though. We’re supposed to be more grown-up than that, you know?
It’s an interesting time to be a geek…
It is indeed.
gia saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm
We’re supposed to be more grown-up than that, but at the same time, a lot of people just…aren’t. And on the Internet, away from their bosses and family and whatnot, they don’t have to be. It’s a gift and a curse ;)
Travis saysMarch 18, 2010 at 2:16 am
Yes, it’s the classic geek hierarchy. “I may know every last extremely trivial fact about Star Wars, but thank god I’m not a disgusting furry!”
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 18, 2010 at 3:32 am
I just find this so sad. Heh.
Kris saysMarch 17, 2010 at 1:24 pm
See, when I was young, I went from reading The Babysitters Club and Boxcar Children and Hank the Cowdog, to Little Women…. And by high school I was reading Hugo’s Les Miserables (on my own, in its entirety) and Goethe’s Faust (also for fun).
Last year’s reading fare included some Harry Potter, but also Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities and TH White’s Once and Future King. This year: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Letters of JRR Tolkien.
But despite my adoration for Harry Potter, I’ve always argued that while Dickens will last centuries, Rowling will last decades. The story and characters are good (except Harry, who’s a twat), the writing strength is not.
I do agree with the irony over the fact that rabid otaku who obsess over the same things Twilight fans are obsessing over, are trying to call out Twilight fans for doing so. While I may argue that some “moe” is actually good (meaning, there are some good shows that also include moe elements), but Twilight is just shit from any angle…there’s PLENTY of horrible anime/manga out there that fans go gaga over just as badly. I know you’re really ticked about it all, but I just find it sort of amusing.
For me it’s a matter of taste rather than the level of obsession. When I was that age, I was already interested in real literature. I didn’t care for fashion, makeup, or other general girly things. I was starting to develop a real distaste for the music, books, and films that I was more accepting of when I was 11, 12, 13. Growing my own tastes and will basically, rather than relying on what pop culture said I was supposed to enjoy. So to me, who was already growing up at that age, I’m annoyed at how pop culture functions. And I see plenty of older women who read the books too. A 60-70 year old woman who was talking to me about Harry Potter made me do a double take when she suddenly asked me if I also read the Twilight books.
Anyway, I’m done being a hypocrite now. :)
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm
You know, I was reading real literature as a teen too. I read freakin’ everything. But did I obsess over it the way I did the trashier stuff? No way. Because it was the trash that spoke to my teenage condition. Literature engaged my mind, but my mind was not the problem at that time. It’s great that you never felt the need for that, but I think most teens do. I don’t think this is a bad thing, either.
I think what’s ticking me off the most is the implication that teens who need to be teens (or even adults who still need those outlets for whatever reason) are inferior to other fans. Teenagers have enough issues to face without having grownup fans incessantly telling them that they (and the things they care about) are shit.
gia saysMarch 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm
Oh, man, I know exactly what you guys mean. I used to drive my mom crazy because while I COULD have been reading the Odyssey, I was instead reading the Babysitter’s Club or Sweet Valley High or something way below my reading potential.
But it was sort of like…sure, the Odyssey is cool, but what does some dude jumping around from island to island cheating on his wife mean to me as a 13-year-old girl? ;)
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm
Oh *sigh* I have fond memories of Sweet Valley High! :D
M saysMarch 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm
So I have this embarrassing childhood secret to share with you that this post suddenly unlocked from the chains of repression. While by grade school I was reading Hugo’s Les Miserables (on my own, in its entirety), I also devoured dozens of Grace Livingston Hill’s truly terrible Christian Romance novels. They were around the house and the sexiest thing my mom let me read! The amount of psychological damage they did remains unknown, but your post will help me think that I was cleverly navigating those pre-teen/teen years.
It’s good to see you posting.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm
1. That is the BEST STORY EVER.
2. You *totally* were.
mom saysMarch 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm
Good work! Loved your early youth references, too. Will I ever forget Grandpa going to The Outsiders movie with you? Surely not.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm
Thanks mom! :D I will never forget that either. He was truly a saint, that man.
Doriinatrix saysMarch 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm
Thank you so much…I hope to be as articulate as you when I grow up.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm
Thank you! I hope to one day grow up! Heh.
Lexie C. saysMarch 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Does it count if I’m equally scared of both fandoms? Both fandoms have aspects I find terrifying, though on that token there are some interesting aspects of the Twilight Fandom that I find worth looking at. The discussions about the parallels between the Mormon religion and the Cullens for instance is fun times.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm
I think I’ve seen too much to really be terrifying (or even truly disturbed) by almost anything at all in fandom. But yes, I’ve found a lot of Twilight discussion interesting, even without having read the books.
Lexie C. saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm
I think because, for the most part, I’m insulated from a lot of the otaku fandom for 85% of the year (except when I’m at Otakon or another convention) I don’t see a whole lot of crazy. The Twilight fandom? I see it every day thanks to my sister and her friends.
The discussions I find amusing are when you’ll have an otaku arguing about Bella’s constant need to be saved and suddenly she becomes Teh Super Power. Usagi Tsukino much?
Janai saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm
I think many of those who backlashed against the comparison you made initially took it the wrong way. I admit I initially took it as a “Moe fans :: Twilight fans” comparison, but what you really seem to be saying is “Fandom A :: Fandom B” which is much more general and therefore, much more acceptable to me. I think the Anime Vice article is misleading, because it specifically states the former, when it seems your true argument is the latter. And that is why there was an outrage of comments on that article.
You do have a good point. I have plenty of issues with Twilight itself, and while I do find the fans annoying, I don’t pass judgment on them, because passing judgment on fandoms is one of things I constantly crusade against (as I’m sure you know).
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm
I think Gia was referencing more than one discussion in her article, actually. Almost my entire Twitter discussion yesterday took place between me and one other person (another woman, actually) where moe was never even discussed. My comment that is quoted there was in direct response to the comment preceding it. It boiled down to (very paraphrased):
Her: Twilight fans are scary because they have Twilight-themed panties and body pillows.
Me: Can an otaku really say that?
Because. Seriously. Hell, an article about panties (the one from Japanator I linked to in my post) showed up *the same day*. So let’s just admit that all the fandoms have panties, shall we?
As I told someone on Twitter earlier today (who was accusing me of calling moe fans misogynist in this post), I’d be the last one to hate on moe fans. I like plenty of moe series myself!
I do think what Gia was *trying* to say in that article, though, mostly went unnoticed. I don’t think she was saying what people assumed she was either.
gia saysMarch 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm
Yeah, there was sort of a side conversation going on that was more about the usual are-moe-fans-all-creepy-perverts debate, but with a bit of are-Twilight-fans-creepy-perverts on the side.
I did a follow-up today that was supposed to be more of a pull-back from that and a look more at fandom in general, inspired by what I’ve read (and written) on this thread. But this time everyone’s talking about the goofy picture instead of the content. Sigh! ;)
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm
Oh, man. *sigh* Heh. It’s hard, isn’t it, when you feel like you’re saying something and people just totally aren’t reading it? I’ll sometimes obsess over whether or not it’s due to me being unclear or them coming in with preconceived notions about what I’m going to say. I suspect often it’s a combination of both. I’m actually having a bit of a heated discussion as we speak over some of my wording. Either way, it’s frustrating!
gia saysMarch 17, 2010 at 7:43 pm
It’s also one of those things— sure, I could have not spent time making that silly picture. But then maybe no one would have read the post at all! ;)
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm
FWIW, I thought the picture was pretty clever.
Matt Blind saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm
Thanks for the thoughtful article, Melinda.
I’ll forgive and accept the Twilight fandom, *just as soon as they get off my lawn*
Oy, you, yeah you, I *know* it was you and your friends who TP-ed my front yard on Halloween. I just know it. Don’t look at me like that, you damn hooligans.
One thing I will say about Twilight fans, speaking quite professionally from my role as a bookseller at a Major Book Retailer:
They buy books. Damn, but *damn* do they buy books.
When the manga fandom can match those retail dollars, we’ll all be better off.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm
They buy books. Damn, but *damn* do they buy books.
When the manga fandom can match those retail dollars, we’ll all be better off.
I look forward to that day! I admit I’m kinda hoping some of the Twilight fans will start buying manga too!
yaoipress saysMarch 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm
When you list yaoi as something that people should be just as ashamed of as lolicon (little girl porn) you make me hate Twilight even more. The point of your article is to stop the maligning of Twilight fans. Why do you have to prove it by maligning yaoi fans?
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm
Yamila, I don’t actually consider anything on that list to be things to necessarily be ashamed of. The fact that you assume that says more about you than it does about me, I think.
Sure, I personally find lolicon to be pretty disturbing work, but since I don’t actually think most of the people who buy it are pedophiles, I will submit that I don’t honestly understand it. And I’m certainly not willing to pass judgement on an entire group of people based solely on their preferences in cartoon pornography.
I specifically included yaoi on that list, because I think its fans face a lot of the same criticism I hear about Twilight fans. Yesterday in a conversation on Twitter, what I was hearing was that Twilight fans were “freaks” for buying merchandise that features the series’ male lead as a sex object. Since I think it’s pretty natural and not at all freaky for teen girls (or adult women, for that matter) to be interested in sexual fantasy involving fictional characters (or celebrities which, let’s face it, are just about as accessible), I disagreed vehemently. Yaoi fans face that same kind of judgement all the time. With that in mind, when I see people I know to be yaoi fans hating on Twilight fans (which I *have* seen), it makes me cry a little inside.
Now, if you want to discuss the specific things I often find problematic in yaoi (which I read a lot of btw, and in fact I have an entire section of this website devoted to reviews of yaoi) I’d be happy to. I even have some issues with particular attitudes I’ve seen come out of yaoi fandom that I’d be willing to discuss. But I’m certainly not maligning its fans, nor would I ever. How could I, when I’m one of them?
yaoipress saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm
“Yamila, I don’t actually consider anything on that list to be things to necessarily be ashamed of. The fact that you assume that says more about you than it does about me, I think.”
HUH? Look at your wording.
“So somebody, please explain to me how–in a fannish universe filled with things like lolicon, yaoi, replica underwear, and Hot Gimmick, all revered with levels of obsession so great they have a special word for it”
You’re pointing out that these things are revered so much there’s a lexicon as though there shouldn’t be. To paraphrase: “How can you have a problem with Twilight if you don’t have a problem with X,Y,Z.” Would this make sense if you gave Pokemon as one of your examples? Right before lolicon? Please tell me you see what I mean. I’m not being belligerent. I think you’re unable to see what your own words are insinuating due to your neutrality. Other people aren’t neutral when it comes to these things!
“I specifically included yaoi on that list, because I think its fans face a lot of the same criticism I hear about Twilight fans.”
That’s not how the reads, Melinda. Honestly. It really sounds like an afterthought.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 7:01 pm
Read the sentences *after* that, Yamila. “They are too obsessed? They are too vocal? They are too weird?”
These are things said about fans of all the stuff I listed. Do you imagine that I consider “Hot Gimmick” to be just like lolicon as well? I’m not saying all those things are alike. I am saying they are all maligned by other fans for one reason or another (usually to do with sex, though in the case of Hot Gimmick it’s to do with how the heroine’s relationships are portrayed). Because they are. Frequently. I don’t see people who hate Pokemon complaining that its fans are disturbing for wearing Pikachu underwear.
I will think about what you’ve said. I really will. But considering that you’re the only person who has taken issue with this so far (and plenty of the people who have read and commented positively about the post, either here or on Twitter, are devoted yaoi fans) I think you should consider too whether your own sensitivity on the issue is making you read it differently than anyone else.
Also, okay, just to bring this home a little (because I really am feeling a little weirdly defensive on the part of loli fans at the moment—something I never thought would happen) so you wanna talk about some instances when yaoi *could* be equated to lolicon? I was once sent a yaoi anthology for review from a popular yaoi publisher that had a story in it which featured the image of an adult man jerking off a little boy. I was pretty horrified. I was even more horrified to read reviews of the book (written by yaoi fans) that didn’t mention it at all! As though it was perfectly fine to be included. That is not what I expect when I read yaoi and I find it every bit as disturbing as lolicon. If fans and publishers of yaoi want to be able to point fingers at loli fans with clean, clean hands maybe they should make a real effort to get shotacon the hell out of yaoi.
Danielle Leigh saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm
As per usual, I feel like an observer in all this rather than a participant but I must comment as someone who only got into manga in the first place because it did cater to girls / girl-oriented culture, and I really appreciate everything you’ve written here.
(Also my teenage fandom was X-files. Oh those were the days. *feels nostalgic*).
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm
Thank, Danielle, I really appreciate the comment. :)
(Oh, X-Files! *heart*)
Strannik saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm
I think saying that hatred/dislike of Twilight is necessarily due to misogyny (though it’s certainly one of the reasons). You can dislike it because it reads like competently written a Mary Sue fanfic, unlikable characters, dubious moral undertones and, yes, all the sparkly silliness. Personally, I can’t say I really hate it (there isn’t really anything to actively, passionately hate) and I don’t hate the fans. The fans haven’t done anything that Harry Potter fans, Gundam Wing fans, DBZ fans, Buffy fans, Sailor Moon fans, Animorphs, Avatar fans (and a whole bunch of other fandoms I never participated in) haven’t done in the past in spades. The Twilight-loving girls are just the latest in the long line of excited fans, down to the shipping crazyness, actor worship, creator wankery and BNFs.
The sad truth of the matter is that I don’t think many fans remember what it was like to enter fandom for the first time, how cool and exciting it all was and how immature they were back then. Because they were. We all were. Perhaps there is some subconsious embarrassment at work here. That said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with disliking Twilight (or the more obnoxious members of it’s fandom) so long as you keep things in perspective and don’t take it too seriously. I know I don’t.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm
Oh, I have no problem with people hating Twilight (though I’d prefer if they took the time to talk thoughtfully about why, instead of just labeling it as “shit” (which is what I mainly see). I just have a problem with them deriding the fans.
Perhaps there is some subconsious embarrassment at work here.
I think you are probably on to something. :)
gia saysMarch 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm
Oh, I know EXACTLY how dumb and immature I was! Stupid people who save their IRC chat logs. It’s terrible! ;)
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm
I recently went back and looked at a bunch of old posts and comments made by me online. I could DIE over some of the stuff I said then. GAH.
yaoipress saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm
I was very angry when I posted the above. I’m probably going to make things worse, but now that I’ve cooled down I want to add something.
I realize that you were trying to list things you considered as frivolous as Twilight. I recommend an edit where you take Lolicon off that list. When it’s listed as something equivalent to yaoi it hurts my genre.
Yaoi has more legitimate hurdles to face than nasty comments. It needs bloggers like you defending it more than the mega-hit Twilight does. There are those who would be happy to consider yaoi as bad as ‘little girl porn’ because it’s ‘gay stuff.’
There have been many conventions that have said to me, ‘We’re not letting in any yaoi exhibitors. Not because it’s gay, but because it’s porn.’ And then they let in every hetero vendor who applies thereby telling me it *was* banned because of the gay content.
I’m obligated to mention that before you lump BL with the obscene or meritless you consider that Fumi Yoshinaga made her career on yaoi manga, and included male/male rape and kissing in her graphic novel Ooku which was nominated for Eisners and won her the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize. The scholarship on BL fills volumes (including the book just published that I took part in). Yaoi deserves that shelf space in Borders. Yaoi deserves to be represented at anime conventions. This is hard fought because a lot of guys and moms picking bookstore books or running conventions find gay stuff ‘icky’ and want any excuse to exclude it without being branded a homophobe. If they have fodder to put yaoi in the same category as lolicon it helps them continue to repress homosexual content without having to address the reasons that would out them as the ignorant people their being.
Yes, I went on a tirade about one sentence of your article. That’s me giving you a lot of credit over the sphere of influence you have. Regarding people badmouthing Twilight, I’m one of those people. I’ve never read a Twilight book or seen the movies. I hate Twilight because it took money out of my pocket, period. When something funded by millions of dollars directly competes with my tiny little yaoi company I haven’t a hope in hell to win. I want people to be ashamed to wear Twilight merchandise in public because they used to spend that money on yaoi merchandise at conventions. It’s not about it being a Mary-sue, poorly edited (so I’ve heard) or ripping people off with oversized type to make up for the lack of pages—before the stigma for Twilight fans was built up it was killing my convention sales. I need that money more than them. You’re helping Goliath by stepping on David.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 8:03 pm
I haven’t responded to this comment up to now, because I know you wrote it before reading my first response and I’m not sure how much of it still stands. But I’ll try now to say a few things.
First of all, I’ll repeat something I said above just because I want to make sure you know I’m sincere. I really will think about what you are saying in terms of how other people might judge yaoi for being on a list with lolicon. I really don’t think of myself as someone with enormous influence, but I will think about it and if I can come up with wording that I think makes my point clearer without screwing up everything else I’m trying to say, I’ll consider editing.
I’m not sure how to respond to your… small publisher rage. I never gave Twilight much thought at all until it was going to become a comic, because that’s when comics fans starting hating on Twilight fans en masse. For me, the publisher I’m helping out (assuming a blog rant from me can help anyone) is Yen Press—a publisher I personally have a lot of interest in seeing thrive. They are one of the very few companies actively licensing and publishing Korean manhwa right now, which is a medium frankly on much shakier ground than yaoi is (as a genre—I can’t speak for your releases specifically). From my point of view, more money for Yen Press can only be a good thing. They are producing stuff I love that currently has a very small fanbase and which faces huge hurdles with manga fans, many of whom (erroneously) think of it as a cheap imitation of Japanese comics. This is important to me. I am happy to think anything I say or do might help support a company that publishes manhwa.
That said, though I do spend a lot of time on this blog promoting manhwa as a medium, I try to give everyone who is publishing it currently equitable coverage. I try to do that with the stuff I review overall. If I’ve been remiss with Yaoi Press, it would be in not having covered your work the same way I have with, say, DMP or the Korean and Japanese offerings at NETCOMICS. Since I know your releases (some of them anyway) are available at NETCOMICS and I have complimentary access there for review purposes, I will try to rectify this.
yaoipress saysMarch 17, 2010 at 11:53 pm
Manwha just got a multi-million dollar USA movie deal. Yaoi can’t even be pitched to mainstream production companies or movie investors because of the gay content. Yen Press is an imprint of Hatchette Press, the original publisher of Twilight.
“If I’ve been remiss with Yaoi Press,”
I never said nor intended to imply this. I objected to how you referenced yaoi in the article. If I was commenting to get publicity from you for Yaoi Press then I wouldn’t be having this argument with you. I don’t like that you’re misinterpreting my words this way. It’s insulting whether or not you intended it to be.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 18, 2010 at 3:26 am
You know, Yamila, I give up. You come in here *ranting* at me, basically accusing me (and Twilight fans?) of ruining your business by not paying enough attention to yaoi. I have tried to listen to you and I’ve tried to respond thoughtfully but you continue to accuse me of… I’m not even sure what at this point. Now I’m insulting you?
Ever since we first met online, you’ve reacted like this with me constantly. I don’t know what I ever did to piss you off so profoundly, but I’m done trying to figure it out.
yaoipress saysMarch 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm
The above was posted before I saw any replies.
Garrett Albright saysMarch 17, 2010 at 9:29 pm
Hatred at the Twilight comic is a manifestation of misogyny? It’s an interesting perspective, but I’m not sure I buy it. Instead, I think the hate is just a common yet self-destructive reaction that we often see in small, nerdy communities when something comes along and threatens to make it more popular. And what is more popular right now than Twilight? A scientific study could perhaps be written about this. (See also indie music fans who always rave about bands you’ve never heard of but consider any band you *have* heard of to be mass market assembly line pop crap.)
Furthermore, your article seems to contain some contradictions; you admit that much of the “manga” (whatever that word means nowadays) fandom is female (I’d be willing to bet that *most* of it is), so how does that account for all this hate if misogyny is the root cause of it? Is it only guys that it’s coming from? I don’t think that’s the case.
Also, you say that squealing teenagers should be allowed to behave like squealing teenagers, and yet the title of your post orders us to “Please Grow Up.” :P
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm
Hatred at the Twilight comic is a manifestation of misogyny?
Considering that you’ve begun by misstating my point entirely (hatred at Twilight fans is a manifistation of misogyny—not that it’s even my main point) I’m not sure I should even bother to respond. But I’m an idiot, so I will. Also, women are just as capable of misogyny as men, and if I had a dime for every example I’ve seen of that in fandom, I’d be much too rich to care about blogging. (Edited to add: BTW, though manga fandom has a generous number of women, especially among bloggers, anime fandom is much more male-centric and is where both of the quoted comments came from.)
Lastly, when I ask fans to “grow up,” I’m talking to adults, who do not have excuses for their own poor behavior in fandom: “So grow up, fandom. The Twilight girls will, thanks to simple biology. When will you?”
I am not sure how I could possibly be more clear.
Lissa saysMarch 17, 2010 at 9:43 pm
Wonderful post – you articulate your points really well.
I spent a good while typing and retyping a more intelligent response but the right words fail me. For what it’s worth I agree whole-heartedly on what you said and honestly express my regret seeing some of the response you’ve gotten.
We may not always like how people express themselves (at any age or fandom) but simply a person’s love for something should never be cause for so much blind hate.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm
Thanks, Lissa. I really appreciate your comment (and your RT too!) especially since you’ve caught me in a moment of particular frustration. Heh.
Really, thank you.
Anna saysMarch 18, 2010 at 1:11 am
Chiming in late to say thanks for the post! I will now go away, and come back with an essay about how much you have maligned my beloved Hot Gimmick :)
(note: I do not think you have maligned Hot Gimmick)
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 18, 2010 at 3:30 am
Heh. Thank you for that, Anna. I totally needed it. :D
The Yaoi Review saysMarch 18, 2010 at 6:27 am
I don’t discriminate in my dislike of fangirls, whether they be Twilight fans or yaoi fans. If they annoy me, I don’t like them. XD But I’m old and crotchety and have little patience for the younger generation. As far as Twilight itself, I don’t hate the fandom, I just strongly dislike the movie franchise. I don’t like it but know plenty of people friends and family alike that do so more power to them.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 18, 2010 at 8:43 am
Equal opportunity dislike, I can get behind that. ;)
Katherine Dacey saysMarch 18, 2010 at 8:50 am
Thank you for a thoughtful, rational response to the Twilight foolishness.
Like a lot of feminists, I find myself in the peculiar position of defending a series that offends me as a feminist while defending its fans from hateful criticism. The two comments you include in your essay clearly demonstrate what many female comic fans have been saying for months: it’s the fans’ gender that’s coming under attack more than their taste. Folks who think otherwise have never had the experience of having their opinion or their “right” to be somewhere challenged on the basis of their gender. I have, and it sucks. That’s why I don’t pass judgment on Twilight fans.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 18, 2010 at 8:55 am
Thank you for saying all this, Kate. I can completely relate. I did actually read the Twilight GN last night & though it doesn’t go far enough into the story to hit most of its most offensive points (from what I understand from friends) I can already tell it is going to offend me as a feminist. But I know we’re on the same page when it comes to defending the fans.
I’ve been frustrated a little by the fact that so few are willing to consider the sexism at work here.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm
Just a couple more thoughts I had (as I’ve mulled today)… now maybe this is due to edits for the GN, but I actually found Bella to be spunkier and more self-aware than I expected her to be. Also, I was more entertained than I expected.
V Terry saysMarch 18, 2010 at 11:14 am
I think a lot of the Twi-hate comes from fanworks writers who think they could have done better than Stephenie Meyer.
They may be right, but she got there first and a ton of people enjoy her stuff. Live and let live!
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 18, 2010 at 11:19 am
Oh, interesting, I haven’t heard much about this. Is this stuff you see in LJ/IJ/DW fandom? Or where?
Jade saysMarch 18, 2010 at 11:14 pm
I actually posted a comment along these lines on Kate’s site recently. The funny thing is, it was about manga/anime in general and how western comic fans react to people of other genders and races suddenly popping up in the sequential art playground. Anybody who has ever been called a weeaboo by Jimmy Dungeon Master in his Batman t-shirt should be able to appreciate the humour of their treating Twilight fans the same way.
Another thing I think should be mentioned is that this isn’t just a sudden influx of people who like something a lot, it’s fans actually paying money for books. That’s more real dedication than the noble fan who notices how similar a comic looks to the Naruto scan he just finished reading for free. Every complaint about how well the Twilight comic is selling is really an indictment of the lack of sales for ‘real’ fan favourites.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 19, 2010 at 7:14 am
Yeah, Matt Blind who works in bookselling, made a comment above about how devotedly Twilight fans buy books, and how much we’d all benefit if manga fans did the same. I suspect that’s not something a lot of manga and comics fans want to hear, but it’s a really good point, isn’t it?
Jade saysMarch 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm
Ah, sorry, I must have missed that.
I just had an interesting thought connecting the points though: A lot of rabid fandom across the board isn’t so much about about true appreciation of content so much as feelings of entitlement, so I think that gives some perspective on some of the people who don’t understand how other fans can actually value something.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 20, 2010 at 11:33 am
That’s a really good point. And a sad one, I’d say.
Geri-chan saysMarch 19, 2010 at 12:07 am
Hi, I’m an avid reader of your reviews delurking to say that I’m a yaoi fan and I didn’t see anything offensive about yaoi in your article. In fact, I first discovered your blog via a MangaBlog link to your yaoi essays, and I find your reviews very helpful since we seem to have similar tastes in yaoi. (I also enjoy your other manga and manhwa reviews.)
Getting back to the subject of Twilight fans, I have certain issues with the books, but I would never attack someone just for being a fan of something I dislike. I’m a manga/anime fan, a Harry Potter fan, and a former D&D gamer, so I know what it’s like to have people look down on my hobbies, and I’d never want to do that to anyone else. We all ought to be mature enough to live and let live.
And as with the Harry Potter books, I feel like anything that gets kids enthused about reading has got to be a good thing.
And boy, did your article bring back memories of the guilty pleasures of V.C. Andrews books! When I was a teen, I eagerly devoured Flowers in the Attic and the sequels it spawned. ^_^
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 19, 2010 at 7:18 am
Hi, I’m an avid reader of your reviews delurking to say that I’m a yaoi fan and I didn’t see anything offensive about yaoi in your article.
Thank you so much for saying this, Geri-chan. I really appreciate it.
Also, haaaaaaa it’s been fun reminiscing about the trashy books I read as a teen. :D I’m glad you can enjoy the memories as well!
lore saysMarch 23, 2010 at 3:47 am
I have to agree with Geri-chan here. I am deep into English-published BL books and I understood perfectly the point you were trying to make. Anyone reading deeper into those statements, especially after you explained yourself several times, is defensive or paranoid. Respect has definitely been lost here.
I’m not a fan of Twilight, but because I am a fan of many other things, including the much smaller, often maligned BL market, I don’t feel I have the right to harsh on Twilight fans’ good time. Actually, no one should feel they have a right to rain on anyone’s parade, whether s/he has the popular high-ground or not.
It seems like there’s a lot of glass houses in this debate.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 23, 2010 at 7:33 am
Thank you, lore, I really appreciate this.
Crystalyn saysMarch 19, 2010 at 11:02 am
I usually lurk but I wanted to comment on this article.
I wanted to say I agree with everything you wrote. I was also very vocal and immature and annoying about my pre-teenage (Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps) and teenage (Star Wars, X-Files, Broadway theatre) fandoms, and was a squeally, horrible-grammar-utilizing mess. It’s pretty embarrassing going back and looking at what I used to write back then.
I agree that most of these teens will grow up and move on, and may still be really into fandom, but will probably be a little more quiet about it (let’s hope so anyways, I get tired of my ears ringing at cons).
But I have also been getting a bit tired of the absolute Twilight hate without reason. If you’ve read them and dislike them, then fine, you can rant about all the different things that make it suck. But uninformed and pure hatred for both the books and the fans without understanding why or hating because it’s the popular thing to do right now is just very sad (and makes my inner Buddhist cry).
In full disclosure, I’ve read the Twilight books, and I enjoyed them. So did my mother and two teenage sisters. We called each other at 2am to discuss where we were in the book when the last one came out, and reading them helped me bond with them, even if I understood fully that it was just trashy, guilty-pleasure fun (and of course that they made my inner feminist rage quite hard. So does Hot Gimmick and Black Bird).
But my family also does this type of stuff for more literary-acclaimed works too.
But as a 27-year-old who can understand a bit as to why the squeeing teenagers are the way they are about this (as much as I’d like to forget), I have to really appreciate what you’ve written here and say thank you for writing it. I agree with what you and Gia and many others have said about having a whipping boy and the 4chan mentality. I just wanted to add my voice to say you aren’t alone in your thoughts (although that is quite apparent from the many insightful responses you’ve received here as well).
I may not agree with or like how teenage fans express themselves, but I really can’t criticize it if I realize if I was 10 years younger I might be in the thick of it. I think a lot of people need to take a step back and remember who they were 10 or 20 years ago. It won’t apply to everyone, but I would bet it would apply to a lot of people who are raging so hard against Meyer’s series.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm
You know, I’m 40 years old, and I look back even five years ago and still cringe. I think it’s an ongoing process in life. :)
Thank you so much for your thoughtful input here. It’s nice to hear from someone who genuinely likes the series.
Apple saysMarch 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm
“Vajayjays”?? Really? Is it that hard to say “vagina”? XD
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm
You’d think if someone was bold enough to tell a girl to stick a popsicle in it, they’d be able to say the word, wouldn’t you?
Apple saysMarch 19, 2010 at 3:29 pm
And I can’t put stock in the words of someone who uses the term “vajayjay.” I just can’t.
William George saysMarch 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm
This may have been covered above, but the Twilight fandom hate is pretty much par for the course in geek culture.
The thing about fandom is that it’s a group activity. While the group does have it’s benefits (Social interaction) it also has a number of negatives, such as insularity or groupthink.
One of the other aspects of the group experience is hostility towards new groups. As the new kid on the block, Twilight is now facing this. Anime and manga fans faced the same thing when they first made their presence known in cons in the 90s. As did superhero comics before them, as did Star Trek fans before them, and so on.
Now, I’m not sure Twilight will produce the same sort of kidults that something like Star Wars created, but if it does settle down into a long-term fan culture, it too will take it’s turn saying mean things about whatever new thing comes along.
The only way this will end is if the fundamental structure of fandom – the group- ends as well.
I doubt that’s going to happen any time soon.
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 23, 2010 at 7:55 am
William, thanks for coming by! I’m sure it is the particularly vile language being used with young girls that makes me rankle so in this instance. Using their gender against them is something I find pretty unforgivable. Your points are well taken, however.
themooninautumn saysMarch 24, 2010 at 12:43 am
Very mature and thoughtful essay and request. It really needed to be said so clearly, and I appreciate you for stepping up. :) Thank you for writing so well and for your always attentive responses that often stimulate further dialogue and thinking. You are appreciated!
Melinda Beasi saysMarch 25, 2010 at 9:58 am
Thank you so much for reading and for saying such nice things about me! :D *heart*
Astraea saysMarch 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm
I’m finding this post through a link somwhere, seriously late. Eons late in internet time! But I really appreciate this perspective.
I especially hate when this comes from some of my fellow yaoi fans, because much the same has been said about us. I guess there will always be people invested in making sure there’s someone lower than them in the geek heirarchy, and misogyny makes for a good tool for that.
Stay saysApril 3, 2010 at 8:58 am
…What about the TwiMoms? ):
fmyates saysApril 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm
Wow, I feel the same way! When I was at SDCC last year the level of hatred toward the twilight fans left me astounded. It was something I just couldn’t wrap my head around, they’re fans, they’re annoying, this is new, HOW? I’m hoping this year the rabble will grow up. But I’m not betting on it.
♠twilight hater saysApril 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm
I don’t hate twilight fans, but I do hate twilight fans who hate me because I dislike twilight. Just like in politics, you may disagree with a particular group’s point of views, however that doesn’t mean they’re all bad people. This is very hard for me to say, because recently I was stabbed in the thigh with a pencil (no joke) by a twilight fan because I said “I hate twilight,” nothing more, nothing less. This is kind of behavior is why many people tend to think twilight fans a f**king insane. This is because instead of said girl asking me “now why do you hate twilight, what about it do you not like,” she went straight to engaging rash hostilities. (Yes, I know she was just a rotten apple, but if a lot of people witness stuff like that, then many will think twilight fans are insane) Not to mention the fact that Edward’s personality was sculpted purely from a women’s desires and only about <0.000000001% of men can be like him. So it makes even the nicest of guys like me seem incredibly refutable compared to Edward. Often times teen girls whom read twilight will then have ridiculously high standards that no guy can satisfy. It'd be like if some dude wrote a book about a girl who never ever complains, enjoys fishing, beer, nascar, football, etc and always leaves the toilet seat up and is always in the mood for sex. It just isn't gonna happen.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 10, 2010 at 7:35 pm
Often times teen girls whom read twilight will then have ridiculously high standards that no guy can satisfy.
No offense, but girls have spent their whole lives growing up in an entertainment environment that tells them that airbrushed, surgically enhanced supermodels are the standard for female perfection—something that only a tiny percentage of women have the potential to live up to, or even close—an attitude reinforced by the real-life men and boys they deal with every day. Welcome to our world, boys.
Lee saysApril 12, 2010 at 5:06 pm
Stabbed with a pencil?! Well that particularly fan certainly needs to adjust her attitude ):
I don’t think that’s an apt comparison though, Melinda.
The airbrushed, perfected female body ideal is sold to *females*. Edward’s perfection is also sold to *females*.
This is just more of the same. Women must have perfect bodies. Men must have perfect bodies. No one is selling guys this idea of physical perfection. (Porn sells the idea to men, I suppose, but I’m referring to more publicly accepted main-stream marketing. I doubt guys seeing 12″ c*cks gives them great self-esteem)
The point I’m making is, Twilight is just more of the same in that department. Give ’em a free copy of Cosmo with their copy. Why don’t males get sold some body-perfection obsessed sh*t?
/sorry for the tl;dr there.
I’ve actually read some of the Twilight series. A little tedious, but not bad as far as YA stuff goes. Its not great world changing literature but I don’t think it deserves a lot of the hate it gets. I’m happy it’s there. It’s made a lot of young people realize that you can really love a book. They can move on to Shakespeare later if they want.
idk, a lot of their behavior rankles. And the worst bit is that some of the jerkiest Twilight fans are *not* little teens. Some of them are grownass women acting like dicks to people. I’m not going to give those ones any slack or sympathy/
Melinda Beasi saysApril 12, 2010 at 7:58 pm
I must disagree vehemently with your premise. The vast majority of mainstream entertainment is geared towards males. Film and television (not to mention mainstream comics) are filled with scantily-clad, “hot” young women, who are being presented as sex objects for men. And though quite frequently the premise of film and TV is the story of a goofy-looking, fat, aging, or otherwise non-conventionally attractive man getting together with a super-hot woman, the reverse is very, *very* rare. If you think that all this has not programmed most men to value hot bodies over everything else, you’re either living in a cave or in serious, *serious* denial.
Just the fact that you think this portrayal of women is only present in *porn* makes me think it’s probably the latter, or you’ve been inundated with it so consistently throughout your life that you can’t even recognize it anymore.
Lee saysApril 13, 2010 at 12:07 am
Ok, I see what you’re saying now. I was thinking exclusively of print (magazines, books, comics/manga) I only watch an hour of tv a week at most so I’m not qualified to judge it.
Even if the situation is reversed, it’s not healthy. If one gender is brainwashed, the thing to do is stop the brainwashing, not brainwash the other gender.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 13, 2010 at 8:57 am
Heh, well even if you’re only talking about comics/manga, I think you’ll find the same. And yes you’re right, it’s not as though creating the same thing for girls is a positive thing. It’s just that as a woman with 40 years of being held to unreasonable standards of female “beauty” behind her, I found it pretty hilarious that this was any man’s major objection to Twilight. After all, we’ve been putting up with this kind of crap for years, and our objections (for the most part) have not been met with understanding from male fandom.
Eriskay saysJuly 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm
Being a quite experienced Twitard basher, I still have to say that I partly agree with you. However, I can see why people write comments like that. They are not entirely justified and people should definitely phrase their opinions differently (in a way which actually communicates what they want to say, prefferably) but I do understand them.
You see, I happen to be a teenage girl. A teenage girl who is expected to get along and socialize with other teenage girls. Yes, I have read Twilight. No, I didn’t like the series. I hated it. The way Bella accepts things like Edward following her around in secret, spying on her as she sleeps and damaging her car when she wants to go see other friends as “romantic, protective gestures” is sickening and repulsive. Furhtermore, the books are filled with old, mormon ideals, such as sex only after marriage. Hearing girls around me talk about Edward, oh Edward, as the prince of all princes who they all love to death (and then some) is sickening. Having to stand these gils frequently (school) is hell. Most sane people I know share my opinion. I am quite happy to go hang with the geek boys when they start bickering about Team Edward or Team Jacob (I’m Team Shovel).
I am all for dedication, obsessions and fandoms. Fiction is my drug, and if people read more because of Twilight then yeah, okay, whatever. I just wish Edward wasn’t such an asshole. Maybe I’m not acting my age, but either way I am perfectly convinced that this does, actually, not entitle me to saying that Twitards should be shot. If I was holding the gun, I would aim it at Edward, not the girls. Screw undeadly Vampire or whatever, I’d just like the satisfaction of shooting him.
(Yes, I went there. He is a character and I don’t think it’ll hurt a fictional person a lot if he takes a bullet.)
I think this comment makes sense. Maybe. XD Anyhow, I enjoyed reading this, so thanks. :)
Austin NFA Trust saysMarch 6, 2013 at 6:52 am
For a story about restraint, the “Twilight” saga has some awfully rowdy fans. There have been near-riots at preview screenings, frightening incidents at shopping malls, online meltdowns and, of course, feverish girl-talk sessions.